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Nonsurgical Options for Treating Fibroids

June 7, 2021

Kristen S. could feel the lump in her abdomen. It caused pain and discomfort when she bent over or exercised, and it pressed against her bladder, making her feel like she had to urinate. Adding to that, the 43-year-old Morris Plains mother of two teenagers experienced heavy bleeding during her periods, causing extreme fatigue.

“I’m a preschool teacher, so I really need my energy,” says Kristen. “I was taking three iron pills a day because I was anemic and exhausted.”

Kristen’s gynecologist confirmed that she had two large benign fibroids growing in her uterus and discussed several treatment options, including a complete hysterectomy, medication to induce menopause, and uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). Wanting to avoid major surgery and the side effects of early menopause, Kristen opted for UFE and, at the suggestion of her gynecologist, met with Amish Patel, MD, an interventional radiologist at Atlantic Fibroid Center at Overlook.

UFE is a nonsurgical, outpatient procedure that shrinks fibroids while preserving normal uterine tissue. Using sophisticated image guidance, a catheter is inserted through an artery in the wrist and into the uterine arteries through which tiny particles are injected to block the flow of blood to the fibroids.

“Patients have the option of either sitting up or lying on their side,” remarks Dr. Patel. “Instead of general anesthesia, patients are given a sedative; and I use a nerve block to minimize post-procedure pain. The entire process takes less than an hour. Patients go home the same day and are back to work in less than one week.”

“I didn’t feel a thing during the procedure,” comments Kristen, “and the next day I could actually feel the fibroids shrinking. I was back to work in a week and since then, my periods are much more manageable. Had I known UFE was an option, I would have done it earlier.”

The Facts About Fibroids

Up to 70% of women will develop uterine fibroids – benign growths inside, outside or on the surface of the uterus – during their lifetime. Fibroids can range in size from a single microscopically small nodule to a cluster, weighing several pounds and measuring several inches. While many women never experience symptoms from uterine fibroids, others – like Kristen S. – have symptoms that impact the quality of their life.

“For those women who are affected by fibroids, timely and effective treatment is available and can provide long-term relief,” observes Diana Contreras, MD, medical director, Ob/GYN and Women’s Health, Atlantic Health System. Our patients have access to the most advanced diagnostic testing and treatments – from state-of-the-art image-guided techniques and nonsurgical options to minimally invasive procedures that replace major surgeries for speedier recovery times and effective, long-term results.”

Amish Patel, MD, and the Atlantic Fibroid Center at Overlook Medical Center are part of Atlantic Medical Group, a multispecialty network of health care providers. They are located in Overlook’s Medical Arts Center (MAC) I, Suite 405. Call 908-522-5130 to schedule an appointment or learn more >